An introduction to the Taj Mahal in Agra. And what to do when you get there! – Incredible India!

At the Taj Mahal in Agra, India
Victoria outside the Taj Mahal in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

So let’s take a break from Brexit for a minute and focus on India!

India?

Yep!

Can you recall that after 14 years away.

Fourteen (14) years!

I went back to India.

Outside the Amer Fort in Jaipur - India
Victoria outside the Amer Fort in Jaipur – India ©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

And before we even stepped foot in India, our troubles began.

Again!

For those of you just catching up, here’s what happened:

When the airline lost my luggage on the flight to India – Incredible India!

Because if India doesn’t break you, it’ll make you stronger!

Lost and Trapped in Delhi – Incredible India!

Haw! Haw!

So what happened after that?

Read on:

So after we left Delhi, we took the train to Agra.

Taking the train in India; At the Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) train station; Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) train station; Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin); Delhi train station; Hazrat Nizamuddin train station; railway; Indian train; train; trains in India; Indian railway; train station; Delhi; India
Taking the train in India is a completely different kettle of fish!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Taking the train in India is a completely different kettle of fish to taking the train in Germany.

Or any European country for that matter!

I’ll talk about that in a completely different post!

Ha!

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE TAJ MAHAL IN AGRA. AND

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU GET THERE!

The Taj Mahal in India.
The Taj Mahal in India.

LET’S GET A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY!

The Fatehpur Sikri or Fatehpūr Sikrī in Agra, India
Victoria facing the Fatehpur Sikri or Fatehpūr Sikrī in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Book your hotel here!

Agra is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India.

It’s 378 km/235 miles west of the state capital, Lucknow, 206 km/128 miles south of the national capital New Delhi, 58 km/31 miles south of Mathura and 125 km/78 miles north of Gwalior.

Agra is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh, and the 24th most populous in India!

Outside the Agra Fort in Agra, India
Victoria outside the Taj Mahal in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

OMG!

Agra was first mentioned in 1080 AD.

In fact, the capital of India was moved from Delhi to Agra in 1506!

Not long after, the Golden Age, otherwise known as the Empire of the Mughals, began and took influence from 1556 to 1648.

Agra was then known as Akbarabād and remained the capital of the Mughal Empire. This was the period of religion, economic stability, art and architecture with palaces, gardens, rivers, towers and forts such as the Agra Fort, a stone military city such as Fatehpūr Sikrī, and of course, the building of one of the most iconic monuments in the world built in sorrow and to the memory of a most beloved wife – the Taj Mahal.

After the decline of the Mughal Empire, the city came under the influence of Marathas and was renamed Agra, before being taken over by British rule, otherwise known as Queen Victoria, the Empress of India, or the British Raj, in 1803.

India remained a British colony until Indian Independence in 1947!

At the entrance to the Fatehpur Sikri or Fatehpūr Sikrī in Agra, India
At the entrance to the Fatehpur Sikri or Fatehpūr Sikrī in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
The Diwan-i-Am, or Hall of Audience in Agra, India
At the Diwan-i-Am or Hall of Audience, Agra Fort in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Agra is a major tourist destination because of its many Mughal-era buildings, most notably the Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort, the tomb of Itimad-Ud-Daulah or Baby Taj, and Fatehpur Sikri or Fatehpūr Sikrī, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Agra is also part of the tourist trail known as the Golden Triangle, which includes Delhi and Jaipur.

I'm sorry, but India's Holy River Ganges in Varanasi is utterly filthy!
I’m sorry, but India’s Holy River Ganges in Varanasi is utterly filthy!

Varanasi is a well-sought for sight, but it’s, excuse my pun, miles away from Delhi and usually includes flying or taking the over-night sleeper train.

Eek!

WHY GO TO AGRA?

Facing the Taj Mahal in Agra, India
Victoria facing the Taj Mahal in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

As if you have to ask!

What?!

You do?

Ok then.

Well, Agra is in India!

Fatehpur Sikri or Fatehpūr Sikrī in Agra, India
More of the beautiful Fatehpur Sikri or Fatehpūr Sikrī in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

It’s entwined with civilizations, history and culture, that goes back centuries!

It boasts numerous architectural jewels and a world heritage that make parts of India enviable.

And UNESCO locations filled with buildings, marked by world history of thousands of years, that made me practically salivate when I saw them!

Agra is near Delhi.

It’s pretty cheap by West European standards.

Princess Diana in front of the Taj Mahal in Agra, India
Princess Diana in front of the Taj Mahal in Agra – India
©Reuters

And in 1992, Princess Diana did that famous bench moment!

And quite frankly, if you’re in North India, and you DON’T visit Agra, you’re missing out!

If you’ve seen it a million times before, then by all means, don’t bother.

But if you haven’t.

You ought to see why a man took years.

Years!

To build a monuments in sorrow and to the memory of a most beloved wife!

Are you listening people?

A monument that has lasted almost 500 years!

OMG!

Book your hotel here!

HERE’S SOME FUN FACTS!

The Music Producer in Agra, India
The Music Producer – Frank Böster in Agra – India!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
  • The Taj Mahal was built by the grief-stricken emperor Shah Jahan whose wife  – Mumtaz Mahal – died in 1631, while giving birth to their 14th child!
  • Mumtaz Mahal was Shah Jahan’s third wife
  • Her name means “Jewel of the Palace” or “Chosen One of the Palace”
  • Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632
  • The name Taj Mahal means “Crown of Places”
  • It’s an Islamic tomb
  • There are 99 names of Allah inscribed calligraphically on the side of Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb
  • It took approximately 20 years to build
  • 20,000 workers were used to build it
  • And 1000 elephants!
  • The Taj Mahal complex also has additional mausoleums, a mosque, a reflecting pool and large garden
You can actually see the Taj Mahal quite well from the Mehtab Bagh Park
If you’re short on cash, you can actually see the Taj Mahal quite well from the Mehtab Bagh Park!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
  • In fact, there’s a piece of land outside the official area – Mehtab Bagh park – and if you’re short on budget, you can actually see the Taj Mahal quite well from there and take photographs and videos to your heart’s content!
  • The Taj Mahal is 561 feet tall
  • The material used to build it is white marble
  • It has a large white dome surrounded by four smaller domes. The large white dome in the center is approximately 115 feet tall
  • It’s colour appears to change, depending on the time of day or whether there’s a sufficient amount of moonlight!
  • There were about 28 different types of precious and semi-precious stones inlaid into the burial tomb of the Taj Mahal
  • During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, most of the precious stones were stolen and stripped from the walls
  • Over 200,000 tourists from around the world and up to 2 – 4 million local Indian tourists, visit the Taj Mahal every year!
  • It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • It’s also one of the “New” Seven Wonders of the World
  • The four pillars around the main dome are slightly slanted so that if the pillars were to collapse,the tomb would be protected!
  • It was believed that once work on the Taj Mahal was complete, Shah Jahan had the hands of skilled expert workers, chopped off. It was probably true, as many monarchs around the world equally did the same …!

Eek!

TAKE ME THERE?

A train porter at Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) train station; train porter; coolie; Indian porter; Indian train porters; porters; Taking the train in India; At the Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) train station; Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) train station; Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin); Delhi train station; Hazrat Nizamuddin train station; railway; Indian train; train; trains in India; Indian railway; train station; Delhi; India
Take me to India by train, kind sir! Delhi – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

As you all pretty much know by now, I’m a great believer in train travel so we travelled by first class Gatimaan Express train from Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) to Agra (Agra Cantt).

Yes, we did!

We had planned just 16 days in India – three (3) days in Delhi, two (2) days in Agra, three (3) days in Jaipur, two (2) days in Pushkar, three (3) days in Udaipur and three (3) days in Mumbai!

You can of course, just do a day trip Delhi – Agra – Delhi.

North Central Railway - Agra Cantt train station in Agra, India; North Central Railway; North Central train; North Central train station; North Central; Agra Cantt train station; Agra Cantt train; Agra Cantt station; Agra Cantt; Cantt; taking the train in India; at the railway; Indian train; train; trains in India; Indian railway; train station; railway; transport; Agra; India
North Central Railway – Agra Cantt train station in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

However, we wanted to spend at least 2 days in Agra, so we opted for the express train to Agra, and a really nice hotel!

And as I always advocate, be smart, use all the weekends, and make it work!

The tickets from the train station for three first class seats cost 4,485 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €58.00 / $65.00 / ‎£50.00.

In short, €19.30 / $21.60 or ‎£16.60 per person!

With a full meal!

A crowded area; safety, people, city, street entertainment, scams
When you travel as much as I do, scams happen from time to time!
And while we’re at it – 7 other common travel scams to avoid!

You can rent a car or go by taxi of course, but after the horrible night train experience that I had 14 years ago, I really wanted to put that ghost to rest and strangely, travel by train once again!

We opted to use an Indian agent recommended to me by an American expat blogger who was living in Goa at the time, so for peace of mind and ease of travel, we worked with an Indian agent who booked every train that I asked for, with my exact specifications, four (4) months ahead of time.

The name of the Indian Travel Agent is Raj Yadav. He has an agency called Train Ticket Please and was prompt and fantastically efficient. His website is on Facebook.

If you have any questions about him, just ask me.

The first class Gatimaan Express train from Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin); first class Gatimaan Express train; first class train; first class Gatimaan Express; first class; Gatimaan Express train; Gatimaan Express; Gatimaan; Express train; Express; fast train; Express train in India; first class train; Indian first class train; first class train in India; Delhi train; Hazrat Nizamuddin train; Hazrat Nizamuddin train station; Hazrat Nizamuddin station; Hazrat Nizamuddin; Hazrat Nizamuddin train in Delhi; Hazrat Nizamuddin train in Delhi, India; taking the train in India; at the railway; Indian train; train; trains in India; Indian railway; railway; train station; transport; Delhi; India
Victoria in front of the first class Gatimaan Express train from Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin), India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

In order for us to do this from Germany, I opted to pay his agency fee of ₹5,135 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €66.00 / $74.00 / ‎£57.00 and for extra security, I paid $83.60 via PayPal or $27.80 instead!

In short, I paid a I-can-get-a-stressfree-refund-if-it-doesnt-work-out-difference of $18.60 or $6.20 dollars per person, which I’m comfortable with ‘cos I had been to India before, and the stress of organising things when you’re on a solo Indian journey can sometimes make your hair or skin, turn grey!

A man at work in India; working; man; Indian man; Indian; Delhi
Delhi isn’t kind to travellers. It’s tough out there!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

If you’re on a tight budget then there are many other trains that also go to Agra, but be aware that the fastest routes are usually sold out pretty quickly!

And it was a very nice 1.4 hour journey.

With breakfast!

And a newspaper!

Breakfast on the first class Gatimaan Express train from Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) to Agra Cantt train station - India; first class breakfast; breakfast, Indian breakfast; food; train food; meal; The first class Gatimaan Express train from Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin); first class Gatimaan Express train; first class train; first class Gatimaan Express; first class; Gatimaan Express train; Gatimaan Express; Gatimaan; Express train; Express; fast train; Express train in India; first class train; Indian first class train; first class train in India; Delhi train; Hazrat Nizamuddin train; Hazrat Nizamuddin train station; Hazrat Nizamuddin station; Hazrat Nizamuddin; Hazrat Nizamuddin train in Delhi; Hazrat Nizamuddin train in Delhi, India; North Central Railway - Agra Cantt train station in Agra, India; North Central Railway; North Central train; North Central train station; North Central; Agra Cantt train station; Agra Cantt train; Agra Cantt station; Agra Cantt; taking the train in India; at the railway; Indian train; train; trains in India; Indian railway; railway; train station; transport; Delhi; Agra; India
My very nice breakfast on the first class Gatimaan Express train from Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) to Agra Cantt train station – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Take a look for yourself!

Ha!

So we arrived in Agra quite safe and well and then took an Uber to our hotel.

Scams in Europe; scammed by a taxi; taxi scams; scams; taxi
I was scammed by a taxi in Prague. Yeah, I didn’t do that again!
And while we’re at it – 7 other common travel scams to avoid!

Book your hotel here!

I highly recommend Uber!

So far, Uber has been fantastic so I highly recommend it for moving around safely in a taxi and at a clearly informed price, as you don’t want the hassle of taxi driver scams!

I mean, we were paying prices such as ₹219 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €2.80 / $3.10 / ‎£2.40.

In fact, we even paid ₹85 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €1.10 / $1.22 / ‎£0.95 in a proper taxi vehicle.

With seat belts!

This would never in a million years happen, if we had “negotiated” rides ourselves.

Cycle rickshaws; pedicabs; trishaws riders in India; taxi; drivers, bicycle; scams, Agra; Delhi; India
Be careful of scams by cycle rickshaws /pedicabs or trishaws riders in India!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

In fact, I vividly remember trying NOT to pay ₹500 (INR – Indian Rupees) in 2005, for a ride that we discussed would be ₹200 (INR – Indian Rupees) to simply go to the book market that was a 10-minute ride away, and which ultimately took 2-hours as the rickshaw driver took me from shop to shop for “commissions” instead!

I was so frustrated!

So I highly, highly recommend Uber.

I highly recommend Uber!

Use Uber.

If you sign up you’ll get €5.00 off your first AND second ride!

Here’s my link!

I’M TRAVELLING SOLO, IS AGRA SAFE?

Children looking through a window at the Taj Mahal; Agra; India
Children looking through a window at the Taj Mahal. Is India safe?
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

It can be.

It’s complicated.

Most people are really nice, eager to help and respectful.

In fact, I was surprised at how many people actually asked if they could take photographs with me.

And if they asked, I would usually accept.

But.

Local Indians don’t often see Western tourists and their way of greeting and excitement can be over-whelming.

Take a look at this video taken by German YouTubers – The Nile Brothers (Nick and Lenny)

It’s crazy, these fellows were travelling together, and they’re blokes!

Indian men can be over-enthusiastic and creepy by the constant staring, touching, peeping and inappropriate questions.

It’s awful that as strong independent women today, if you’re travelling solo, YOU have to watch how you come across, rather than the obvious use of common sense and if-you-don’t-have-permission-or-clearly-worded-stated-consent, don’t touch.

It’s as simple as that.

In the spirit of #MeToo, both men and women in Western nations are working towards this.

Not so in India.

This blog isn’t the place to debate the battle of the sexes, it’s about how to get the best experience you possibly can, when you travel.

Whoever you may be.

Regardless of your sex, gender or sexual orientation.

Here’s what to do:

Political image; Times Up; No photographs; No videos; No permission; No means No
Please don’t take photographs or videos of me without my permission.
No photo!
No Means No; Political image; No consent; No photographs; No videos; No touching; No permission;
No means No!
  • Be firm and stand your ground
  • Insist that they don’t take photographs or videos of you without your permission
At the Taj Mahal West Gate in Agra, India
The Music Producer & The Tall Young Gentleman at the Taj Mahal West Gate in Agra, India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

I was travelling with my husband and my teenage son and when we were together, there was a respectful distance, but when I wandered off to make my own photography, the peeping and candid photography would begin!

I was firm.

I stated clearly that I didn’t want to be photographed and if I did, it usually involved a woman or children, rather than random lone men!

Indian men; India; Indian; Indian man; India
Indian men can seem over-enthusiastic and creepy by the constant staring, touching, peeping and inappropriate questions.

In one instance, an Indian chap wouldn’t take no for an answer and kept following me about, so I turned around swiftly and demanded his camera.

He was so shocked that he gave it to me, so I deleted his pictures, handed him his phone back and walked off!

Coolies / porters carrying luggage at the train station in India; porters; Indian porters; Indian luggage; transport; train station
Having someone take your luggage is useful but Coolies / porters can walk faster than you think!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
  • Watch and take care of your belongings
  • Dress conservatively
  • Don’t wander around late at night
  • Be aware of body language as sadly, it’s all too interpreted as “flirty” or “available”
  • Keep your drinking to a reasonable level ‘cos India isn’t the place to “go on a bender and get pissed!”
  • Use Uber
  • If you don’t feel safe, get yourself out of there as quickly as possible and if that’s not an option, go straight to the nearest shop, restaurant, hotel, or group of people and ask for help
  • Do your research on local scams
  • Don’t let a low-budget be the reason that you’re booked in a hotel that is dodgy as hell!
  • Take your time, spend a euro/dollar/pound or two more, and book a slightly better one

And to be honest, I wouldn’t let my driver (a complete stranger), arrange my accommodation either, use booking.com and book your own!

Here’s the link!

hotel scams; hotels; scams in India,; Indian scams; Asian scams; scams in Asia
The Indian taxi driver tells you that your hotel is closed, over-booked, or burnt to the ground!
And while we’re at it – 7 other common travel scams to avoid!

Book your hotel here!

IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

Agra Fort in Agra, India; people; Indian people; tourists; tourism; crowds; sightseeing; UNESCO site
India can be crowded, but it’s not as crowded as you might think – Agra Fort!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
Agra Fort in Agra, India; people; Indian people; tourists; tourism; crowds; sightseeing; UNESCO site
The Agra Fort can be crowded, but it’s not as crowded as you might think!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Well, it’s India!

But it’s not as crowded as you might think!

And in many of my photographs, there’s quite a lot of space without any bother at all!

Agra Fort in Agra, Taj Mahal; Fatehpur Sikri; India; people; Indian people; tourists; tourism; crowds; sightseeing; UNESCO site
Don’t let anyone say that India is far too crowded. This was Agra & as you can see, at that moment, there was no-one there!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

So don’t let anyone say that the Taj Mahal / Agra Fort / Fatehpur Sikri is far too crowded.

Because it isn’t!

You don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn unless you really want to.

And if you’re a parent.

On holiday!

Why would you want to?

Rooftop in Agra; rooftop view; rooftop; skydeck in Agra; view of the Taj Mahal; Taj Mahal view; Taj Mahal hotel; 5-star hotel in Agra; the Tajview, Agra hotel; Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra; Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces
Victoria & family on the rooftop skydeck of her 5-star hotel in Agra – India!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Of course, the Taj Mahal is a world-class UNESCO sight and EVERYONE should see it, but it isn’t any more or less crowded than the Eiffel Tower in Paris or Time Square in New York, would be.

Book your hotel here!

We got to the Agra Fort at about 13:30, really took our time wandering around, taking photos and videos, etc. and started walking towards the ticket entrance at about 15:30!

We went in October, and there were very few tourists around as it wasn’t yet “the season!”

Entrance tickets at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India; Taj Mahal; Agra; India; High Value ticket holders; General Value ticket holders; tickets at the Taj Mahal
Entrance tickets at the Taj Mahal in Agra – India, for High Value ticket holders & General Value ticket holders!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

In fact, we practically breezed into most places that required an entrance ticket because as “high value ticket holders,”  the tariffs were priced much greater than “general value ticket holders!”

In fact, considering the fact that the Taj Mahal is a paid-for UNESCO sight, the number of people who were there, is considerably less!

And there were plenty of spots to take photographs, in which absolutely no-one was anywhere near!

I know!

HOW MUCH ARE ENTRANCE TICKETS?

Entrance tickets fees at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India; Taj Mahal; Agra; India; High Value ticket holders; General Value ticket holders; tickets at the Taj Mahal; entrance fees at the Taj Mahal; entrance tickets; ticket fees
Entrance ticket fees at the Taj Mahal in Agra – India!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

THE TAJ MAHAL:

  • Entrance tickets for foreign tourists cost ₹1,100 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €14.00 / $16.00 / ‎£12.00 for adults
  • ₹600 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €8.00 / $9.00 / ‎£7.00 for students
  • ₹540 (INR – Indian Rupees) for foreign tourists from other Asian countries
  • And absolutely nothing at all for children under 15 regardless of where they come from!
  • In contrast to local tourists who pay ₹50 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €0.65 / $0.75 / ‎£0.55

Rightly so!

AGRA FORT:

  • Entrance tickets for foreign tourists cost ₹610 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €8.00 / $9.00 / ‎£7.00 for adults
  • ₹600 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €8.00 / $9.00 / ‎£7.00 for student
  • ₹90 (INR – Indian Rupees) for foreign tourists from other Asian countries
  • And absolutely nothing at all for children under 15!
  • Local tourists pay ₹50 (INR – Indian Rupees)

FATEHPUR SIKRI:

  • Entrance tickets for foreign tourists cost ₹650 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €9.00 / $10.00 / ‎£7.50 for adults
  • ₹600 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €.00 / $.00 / ‎£0.00 for students
  • ₹50 (INR – Indian Rupees) for foreign tourists from other Asian countries
  • And absolutely nothing at all for children under 15!
  • Local tourists pay ₹50 (INR – Indian Rupees)

There is an additional charge of ₹200 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €2.60 / $3.00 / ‎£2.30 to both foreign and local tourists, if they want to visit the main mausoleum.

Shoe covers to the monuments at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India; Taj Mahal; Agra; India; shoe covers; protective cover; plastic shoes
You get a bottle of water, shoe covers & speedy entrance to the monuments at the Taj Mahal in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

For this you get a bottle of water, shoe covers and speedy entrance to the monuments.

It was brilliant.

Men and woman are separated of course, but the amount of time it needed to get us all in was a mere few minutes.

In fact, if you’re a foreign tourist AND paid the “high value ticket” fee, ensure that you insist or being allowed into that queue rather than the ordinary queue.

Don’t be shy as you’ve paid for it.

If you have sharp elbows manage to find the right queue, you’ll breeze through the lines and be at security control, in a matter of minutes!

Don’t panic and have a virtual heart-attack when you see this photograph below!

Don't panic; a very long queue at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India; a very long line at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India; a very long queue; a very long line; a queue; a line; Taj Mahal; Agra; India
Don’t panic and have a virtual heart-attack when you see this enormously long queue at the Taj Mahal in Agra – India. There’s a much shorter special queue just to the side. Follow the signs!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

There’s also a special queue just to the side. Follow the signs!

Here’s my video:

 

ANY TIPS OR TRICKS?

Prohibited items at the Agra Fort and Taj Mahal in Agra, India; Prohibited items at the Agra Fort; Prohibited items at the Taj Mahal; Prohibited items in Agra, India; Agra, India; books, food, wine, toys, helmets, torches, toffee and flowers are not allowed at the Agra Fort;books, food, wine, toys, helmets, torches, toffee and flowers are not allowed at the Agra Fort; books, food, wine, toys, helmets, torches, toffee and flowers are not allowed at the Taj Mahal; prohibited; not allowed
Books, food, wine, toys, helmets, torches, toffee and flowers are not allowed – Prohibited items at the Agra Fort & Taj Mahal in Agra – India!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
Rent a horse and carriage at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India; horse and carriage; horse and carriage in India; transport in India; Indian transport; horse; carriage; transport; small children; young children; mobility issues; mobikity; mobility in India; Taj Mahal; Agra; India
The Taj Mahal in Agra – India is perfectly walkable, but if you have small children or mobility issues, then rent a horse and carriage!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
  • Don’t let scammers take control, there are no entry fees for children under 15 years, regardless of whether they’re foreign or Indian!
  • If your children look mature or are tall for their age, take a school I.D. We used this pretty much everywhere as our son was 16 years old and looked like 20!
  • Be assertive, you might have to use sharp elbows in order to get through the throng, but you don’t need an agent to simply buy your ticket. Follow the signs!
  • There’s a separate queue for “high value ticket holders” / foreigners, you’ve paid for it, so don’t be shy to use it!
  • You can buy your ticket at the ticket counter or online via: www.tajmahal.gov.in
  • To buy your entrance ticket to visit the world renowned Taj Mahal, you MUST show your passport or government approved identity card. Don’t forget!
  • Don’t give anyone anywhere a single penny for anything at all, except at the ticket counter. Just follow the signs!
  • Use the Taj West Gate. It’s easy to find, simply follow the signs!
  • You are entitled to a bottle of water. For free! Make sure it’s completely sealed!
  • You can of course, bring your own bottle of water
Shoe covers to the monuments at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India; High value ticket holder; high value tickets; high value; Taj Mahal; Agra; India; shoe covers; protective cover; plastic shoes
If you have a “high value” ticket at the Taj Mahal in Agra – India, you are entitled to shoe covers free of charge! Make sure you get them or you’ll end up in your socks or bare-footed on a hot & dirty floor!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
  • If you are a “high value ticket holder” / foreigner, you are entitled to shoe covers free of charge! Make sure you get them as shoes aren’t allowed at the inner sanctum and you’ll end up in your socks or bare-footed on a very hot and dirty floor!
  • If you are a “high value ticket holder” / foreigner, you are entitled to a tourist guide map of Agra and battery bus and golf cart services free of charge, which we didn’t see or get!
  • The Taj Mahal is closed on Friday. Every Friday
  • Honestly, it’s perfectly walkable, but if you have small children or mobility issues, then rent a horse and carriage!
  • Books, food, wine, toys, helmets, torches, toffee and flowers are not allowed inside the Taj Mahal!
  • Bags are not allowed inside the Taj Mahal so either leave it at the hotel, securely locked in your car / taxi or in the locker, which is provided near the gates!
  • Drone cameras are not allowed inside the Taj Mahal
  • Tripods are not allowed inside the Taj Mahal
  • Shoe racks are available just below the main mausoleum free of cost
  • Photography is not allowed inside the main mausoleum but I observed that practically every second Indian tourist completely disregarded this and were taking pictures

Sigh!

Book your hotel here!

WHAT IS AGRA LIKE?

Agra Fort train station in Agra, India; ; railway; Indian train; trains in India; Indian railway; government railway police station Agra Fort; Govt. Rly. Police Station Agra Fort, Police Station Agra Fort; police station; Indian police station; train; train station; Agra; India
At the Agra Fort train station in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

It’s alright.

It doesn’t have a reputation for being the prettiest place in the world.

In fact, as a city, it’s quite ugly.

And dirty.

However, you can overlook this by virtue of the fact that Agra is of historical and architectural interest.

And you know how much I adore history, culture, art and architecture.

It’s also part of the tourist trail known as the Golden Triangle, so if you’re short on time or have never been to India before, then I absolutely recommend Delhi – Agra – Jaipur – Pushkar and Udaipur, as the absolute minimum.

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An amazing time at the Agra Fort in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

In that wise, we spent 24 hours not only visiting the Taj Mahal but also:

All of these fantastic buildings are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

And for that, all is forgiven!

I DON’T SPEAK HINDI.

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I don’t speak Hinidi! Neither do they!

Not. A. Problem.

It’s amazing how many languages a typical Indian speaks.

Most speak a minimum of three (3)!

Hindi and English are the only two official national languages, and by far the most widely spoken language in India, but if you speak Bengali, Gujarati, Urdu or Punjabi, you’re good to go!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

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Poverty in India

Ha!

Depending on how brave you are, you can really go bare-bones in India, or live like a king.

It’s up to you!

I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

I like to mix things up a little!
How to spend 48 astonishing hours in Lucerne, otherwise known as Luzern – On a budget!

India isn’t as cheap as you think.

I mean, it can be reaaaaally cheap, but you’ll literally get what you pay for.

So unless you want to sleep on a rat-ridden, cockroach-crawling, dirty bedsheet, water-in-a-bucket sodden filthy room for ₹100 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €.1.28 / $1.45 / ‎£1.10, or spend the rest of your holiday / break / finding yourself / adventure / spilling out your guts in the bathroom (if you can find one) because you drank tap water / ate food at a dodgy corner/ etc, cough up for a little more “quality!”

We knew that Agra might prove more difficult finding “moderately priced” boutique / historical traditional mansions, otherwise known as a Haveli, so we opted for a proper hotel instead.

Agra five-star hotel; five-star hotel in Agra; Agra hotels; five-star hotels; luxury hotels in Agra; Agra luxury hotel; luxury hotel; Indian luxury hotel; the Tajview, Agra hotel; Tajview hotel; Tajview; hotel; Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra; Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces; Agra; India
We were shocked & amazed at just how good our five-star hotel – the Tajview, Agra, previously known as Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra (Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces) – actually was!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

We  were hoping for at least the basics and were shocked and amazed at just how good our five-star hotel – the Tajview, Agra, previously known as Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra (Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces) – actually was.

It was amazing!

And the irony was, it was actually the cheapest hotel we had in India as we only paid ₹9,214 or €117.00 / $133.00 / ‎£101.00 per night (including the tax) for two premium rooms king bed superior rooms with a view of the Taj Mahal (members rate) at ₹4,607 or €59.00 / $66.50 / ‎£51.00 per room!

And.

We were upgraded to two SeleQtions Suite Tajview King Bed rooms worth ₹28,000 or €359.00 / $405.00 / ‎£310.00 per night or at ₹14,000 or €179.00 / $202.00 / ‎£155.00 per room!

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We were upgraded to two SeleQtions Suite Tajview King Bedrooms at the Tajview, Agra luxury hotel!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Our rooms were marvellous and absolutely faced the Taj Mahal at every angle.

We also had a very comfortable bedroom, a large living room, and an enormous bathroom.

Honestly, I wished we had been able to stay longer than just 2 days!

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We spent 24 hours doing absolutely nothing but pampering ourselves at the Tajview, Agra luxury hotel!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

We were really impressed and actually spent 24 hours of our time doing absolutely nothing but pampering ourselves at the beginning of our trip!

We used the spa and booked the ultimate couples massage whilst our teenaged son spent the afternoon in a private coaching session of archery and rifle shooting.

We had cocktails on the rooftop skydeck and really spent the time rejuvenating and enjoying the beauty and 100% service that is India!

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The staff at the Tajview, Agra luxury hotel were very attentive to our needs and wishes!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Let me just say that the staff were very attentive to our needs and wishes.

The food wasn’t glorious but the service was impeccable!

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An Indian breakfast at the Tajview, Agra luxury hotel – The food was so-so but the service was impeccable!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
fruit; Indian fruit; exotic fruit; Breakfast; Indian breakfast; food; Indian food; Agra five-star hotel; five-star hotel in Agra; Agra hotels; five-star hotels; luxury hotels in Agra; Agra luxury hotel; luxury hotel; Indian luxury hotel; the Tajview, Agra hotel; Tajview hotel; Tajview; hotel; Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra; Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces; Agra; India
Fruit at the Tajview, Agra luxury hotel – The food was so-so but the service was impeccable!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

We probably spent €250+ for additional services, but it was worth every penny!

I utterly recommend the Tajview, Agra, previously known as Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra (Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces) hotel!

Book ahead to get good prices.

Book your hotel here!

I’M LOOKING FOR SOMETHING A BIT DIFFERENT. ANY IDEAS?

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You never know what you might see in exotic amazing India!

Absolutely!

Too many to write at the moment.

More soon!

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

transport; car; taxi; transport in India; drivers, transport scams; Indian scams; Indian cars; Indian taxi drivers; Indian taxis; hotel cars; airport cars; Agra; Delhi; India
The hotel in Delhi sent a car to collect me from the airport, then claimed they had never heard of me!
And while we’re at it – 7 other common travel scams to avoid!
I highly recommend Uber!

Uber is fantastic in India.

If you’ve never used Uber before and you would like to. As a first-time customer, if you use my code – victoriaa12504ue – you’ll get €5.00 off your first AND second ride. It’s like riding for free!

You can basically hire a car and driver using the app for a matter of mere hours, all day or pay a flat fee from city to city!

To hire the car where the driver would wait for us for the day, cost us no more than ₹500 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €6.40 / $7.25 / ‎£5.52!

And even for a Premier InterCity city-to-city pre-booking taxi hire for a journey of 153.95 km that took 4 hours and 51 minutes, was the ridiculously cheap price of just ₹1,399 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €18.00 / $20.00 / ‎£15.50 and that was BEFORE the 20% discount for a first intercity ride price of ₹1,119.20 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €14.40 / $16.00 / ‎£12.50!

I couldn’t believe it myself.

ANYTHING ELSE?

The Taj Mahal is closed on Friday; Taj Mahal; closed on Friday; Friday; closed; sightseeing; Agra; India
Don’t forget.
The Taj Mahal is closed on Friday!

The Taj Mahal is closed on Friday.

Don’t forget!

Oh, and try not to get scammed!

MY VERDICT:

Holi; Holi festival; Exotic India; Amazing India; exotic; amazing; awesome; Indian people; Indian; Indian culture; Indian woman; religious woman; Indian religion; religion; holy; Hinduism; Hindu; people; clothes; clothing; Indian clothes; dancing; dance; Indian dancing; culture; Indian traditions; traditions; India
India is awesome!

We all loved it!

Because, Game of Thrones!

Just kidding!

Or am I?!

But seriously.

For many international visitors, India isn’t a destination that immediately comes to mind, but if you’re feeling adventurous, want to push boundaries, willing to get out of your comfort zone, yadda yadda, make it a point of duty to spend a few months weeks, in as many places as you can manage.

If you’re looking for a new destination that isn’t really on the beaten path, say hello – INDIA!

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

Food tour; Food Tour Delhi; Delhi food tour; food; eat; Indian food; walking tour; Delhi walking tour; Delhi; India
Victoria at a food tour in Delhi – India!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Sure!

This wasn’t my first trip to India and it probably won’t be my last.

India isn’t for everyone but it’s definitely worth a visit.

Let’s do it!

IF INDIA DOESN’T BREAK YOU, IT’LL MAKE YOU STRONGER ‘COS INDIA IS HARD!

transport; tuk-tuk; taxi; auto rickshaw, pulled rickshaw; cycle rickshaw. transport in India; drivers, transport scams; Indian scams; Indian tuk-tuk; Indian taxi drivers; Indian taxis; hotel transport; airport transport; ride; India
Perhaps India has changed!

And for those of you who are over 30 (ahem!).

This blog and the next couple of months weeks, is for you.

India isn’t easy, but if you want to go there.

You can!

And of course, if you’re really nervous, I offer a consultancy, and can help you organise or advice you on many parts of your trip to India!

For more info, click here!

Exciting India; Exotic India; Amazing India; exotic; amazing; exciting; adventure; Indian people; Indian; Indian culture; Indian man; man; people; clothes; clothing; hiding; hidden; culture; Indian traditions; traditions; India
Who doesn’t like an exciting adventure in Incredible India!

Who doesn’t like an exciting adventure?

Well, follow me over the next few months, and find out!

So  what are you waiting for?

‘Rah! ‘Rah!

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE TAJ MAHAL IN AGRA. AND WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU GET THERE! – INCREDIBLE INDIA!

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Victoria with a new friend, at the Taj Mahal in Agra – India!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

This article isn’t sponsored, and all opinions and thoughts on Agra, the Taj Mahal, and Agra Fort, are utterly, my very own!

Stay tuned.

Yay!

That’s it for now.

See you soon!

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Victoria & The Music Producer at the Taj Mahal in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Watch this space!

Please note that there are three affiliate link companies connected to this post! Every time one of these services is used, booked, and paid for via my link, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

So what are you waiting for?

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

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How to spend 2 days in Agra visiting the Taj Mahal. And what to do when you get there! – Incredible India

Have you ever seen the Taj Mahal? Would you like to visit Agra? Let me know in the comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

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How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.

How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.
How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.

So a fortnight (two weeks) ago, I told you about how many countries that I travelled to in 2016. And if you’re just joining us, it was 10!

I also told you how I did it, and the plans that I have for 2017. 

In 2016, I’ll be travelling to thirteen (13) countries.

Most of them will be in Europe, and plenty of them, I’ll be reaching by train!

How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.
How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.

But why?

Why the train?

Why not fly?

Why not fly?
Why not fly?

Well, to Russia, I’m thinking strongly of taking some sort of ship or cruise, and to England and Ireland, perhaps flying would be quicker….!

And then again. Perhaps not!

But the fact remains.

I live in Berlin.

In Germany.

Germany - my adopted country!
Germany – my adopted country!

And Germany is right in the center of Europe.

It has airports, train stations, bus stations, bicycle stations, cars and every possible means of transport.

I travel a lot for leisure and pleasure, and many a time, the adventure is in the getting there rather than the destination itself!

Zoooooop! Don't say it! @eatdrinkandrun.com
Zoooooop! Don’t say it!
@eatdrinkandrun.com

And let’s not forget the hassle, long queues and stringent baggage requirements that airlines require these days. Quite frankly, for a 1.5 hour flight you’re looking at arriving the airport (if flying to the UK) at least 2 hours before, if flying inter-continental, at least 3 hours. Not to talk of actually getting to the airport itself!

Luckily for me, Berlin has excellent local public transport that is cheap, efficient, clean, and reliable. I can’t say the same if you’re trying to get to London Heathrow, which is the busiest airport in the world. And equally as complicated, if you don’t know your way around London.

Me!
Me!

Being that I live in Berlin, makes it an extremely easy way to travel.

In fact, travelling by train through the European continent is one of the most comfortable ways to travel with ease, from one country to the other. And by far, one of the cheapest!

Is it any wonder that one of my favourite forms of transport is the train!

WHY TRAVEL BY TRAIN IN EUROPE?

How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.
How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.

There are many reasons why travelling by train in Europe is a most excellent idea, here are some below:

  • It’s cheap:
Travelling by train is a cheap as a bunch of locally grown flowers!
Travelling by train is a cheap as a bunch of locally grown flowers!

I bought a twelve-hour (12) direct train ticket from Berlin to Budapest. In first class for €69.00. Second class was just €10.00 cheaper at €59.00! I couldn’t believe it, so I bought it! My child was free of charge!

I bought a seven (7) hour train journey (second class) train ticket via the Hungarian Railways or MAV at a cost of 11,780 Ft or €38.40 to travel from Budapest to Prague. Child included in the cost!

A five (5) hour train journey ticket (second class) to travel from Prague to Berlin in August, was just €29.00! My child cost nothing at all!

Over the Landwasser Viaduct in Switzerland. ©Michaa Ludwiczak / Getty
Over the Landwasser Viaduct in Switzerland.
©Michaa Ludwiczak / Getty

For Switzerland, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train, and the eleven (11) hour return ticket journey from Berlin – Lucerne – Berlin, including reserved seating in July. Cost just €98.00. My child was free!

As a matter of fact, our return ticket from Berlin – Copenhagen – Berlin was a mere €58.00! And even though we actually missed our connection on the way home, and had to buy another ticket…it was still a sweet deal!

  • Kids travel for free:
Children under 15 travelling inter-city or inter-country, with their relatives, usually travel on the European train, for free!
Children under 15 travelling inter-city or inter-country, with their relatives, usually travel on the European train, for free!

Throughout last summer, I took an international train every weekend, and the price for our son – The Tall Young Gentleman was nothing at all!

His fare was completely and utterly free.

Yep!

Free of charge.

Nada!

Children under 15 travelling inter-city or inter-country, with their relatives, usually travel on the European train, for free!
Children under 15 travelling inter-city or inter-country, with their relatives, usually travel on the European train, for free!

In Germany, children under 15 travelling inter-city or inter-country, with their parents, grandparents, or relatives, travel on the German Rail, otherwise known as Deutsche Bahn (DB), train for free!

Note that if you book Spar Preis Europa trains with the German Rail on this version, your children will be free of charge too!

Other European countries do the same and either have free transport for children, or special prices for families too.

In Stellshagen – Mecklenburg-Vorpommern – Germany.
Our son as a baby – 20 months old!

On our last visit to the UK, we bought an Advance Single train ticket – via the National Rail – from Manchester Oxford Road to a station in Cheshire. Our adult tickets for a 30 minute inter-city train were £3.00 each, and £1.50 for our child. Our Express Train tickets from Manchester Airport to Manchester Oxford Road (in the city) were just £5.00 each per adult, and £2.50 for our child.

  • Delays are minimal and compensated:
The German Rail / Deutsche Bahn train leaving Berlin.
The German Rail / Deutsche Bahn train leaving Berlin.

When travelling by European train, there is very little fuss to it, and far fewer delays than flying

In fact, European Regulation (EC) 1371/2007 on rail passengers’ rights and obligations (2009), state that passengers are entitled to standardised rights in the rail sector in Germany and in Europe.

If there are delays of at least sixty (60) minutes or more, you are entitled to compensation, and if you were to take a taxi, or another mode of transport up to €80.00, you could have that refunded too. Make sure you get the correct documentation at either the train station concerned, from another station, or from the train staff!

  • Luggage:
Get a train ticket and travel through Europe!
Get a train ticket and travel through Europe!

Train travel means that there is plenty of room for your luggage. And if you wished to take the kitchen sink with you (within reason), you probably could. No need to worry about how heavy your luggage would be and how much. There is relatively little or no fuss. In many cases, the railway staff would even help you carry your bags!

No when was the last time that you saw airport staff carry luggage for anyone!

  • Personal space:
You can strech your legs in the corridor of the Polish Train.
You can stretch your legs in the corridor of the Polish Train.

Unlike air or bus travel, there is room to move around, and really stretch your legs. And depending on how long the journey is, they sometimes have some dedicated time for passengers to go outside, buy some refreshments, get some fresh air, take photographs, or get some WiFi!

  • The social factor:
On the Czech-infused train from Berlin to Budapest!
On the Czech-infused train from Berlin to Budapest!

The European train is a little like the Indian train in the sense that you actually get to meet people. And talk to them.

I mean, you’re sitting elbow to elbow, you’re probably going to an international country, the passengers are either locals or tourists themselves, and to be frank, everyone is quite interested in your journey. And if you’ve got a bottle of booze somewhere.

All the better!

So now to the real McCoy!

HOW TO USE THE TRAIN IN EUROPE: 10 TIPS TO HELP YOU

How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.
How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.

Depending on where you are coming from, you need to:

1.  Get a train ticket:

Get a train ticket and travel through Europe!
Get a train ticket and travel through Europe!

The cheapest way to ease into buying train tickets through most European countries (not all), is to actually book through the Deutsche Bahn portal on the local German English version not the UK or USA version! Note that for Germany, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Holland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland, if you’re going by train, I don’t recommend that you do so by InterRail or EuroRail passes, if you’re only travelling to one country, as the prices are ridiculously expensive and children have to be paid for!

The snag is to book tickets with the national train companies, directly. On their own websites, or through the German Rail otherwise known as Deutsche Bahn. Most websites have an English version. Some can be admittedly slightly hidden, but persevere, or contact them directly by calling, or via Email!

Get a train ticket and travel through Europe!
Get a train ticket and travel through Europe!

But don’t forget. Not all train companies allow you to pay online, or even to buy local tickets at local prices! Some train companies only allow you to buy a Eurail ticket if you’re buying from abroad, and which you can only pay for with a credit card. For more info on that check here..  And some do, but you either have to buy the ticket on the train, or have to pay online and then collect the train tickets once you’re in the country itself, or change the language of the website!

For train travel all around the world check out the website of The Man in Seat Sixty-One . . . or Deutsche Bahn.

A goat on the train? Ah well, anything can happen. I've seen worse. Swans for example!
A goat on the train? Ah well, anything can happen. I’ve seen worse.
Swans for example!

But remember, if you’re using the Deutsche Bahn website, change the location to Germany and use the English word for Deutschland which is Germany! NOT the UK/Ireland one! And then change the language to English!

2.  Check online for best routes:

A map of the European High - Speed Train Network!
A map of the European High – Speed Train Network!

Many train companies have their own website which you can access for routes so that you can see where you want to go. Or better yet. Where they actually go, and how to get there!

3.  Do your research:

Do you need to get a bus and then the train? Or vice-versa in Barcelona. Spain?
Do you need to get a bus and then the train? Or vice-versa in Barcelona. Spain?

I live in Berlin and the Polish border is just under two hours away as such, there are discount prices from the German Railway Service known as Deutsche Bahn or DB. You can get a one-way single ticket from Berlin to Stettin or Szczecin in Poland, for just €11.00. Reduced tickets for €8.30. If you want to make a day of it, a day ticket would be €22.00 and €16.60 respectively. You could use it for every local transport in Stettin and the ticket is valid until 03:00 the next day!

Or you could get the German Regional tickets also known as the Länder-Tickets. These are fantastic bargains as the Berlin-Brandenburg regional one day ticket is only €29.00 and can be used by up to 5 people! That’s right! 5 people can travel on this ticket and they don’t have to be related! This ticket is valid from 09:00 to 03:00 the following day, and on the trams and buses in Stettin (Szczecin), and can be used to get to the Polish border!

Yeah well, no promises on the Bogus Bus!
Yeah well, no promises on the Bogus Bus!

You sometimes see people hustling for ticket holders in Stettin (Szczecin) ‘cos if you have 5 people travelling together that’s €5.00 each. A bargain if ever I saw one!

You can get this ticket from the VBB Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg website or DB online. For more information check here and here.

4.  In fact, if you are in Germany, why not hop to some of our neighbouring countries too:

"The Tall Young Gentleman" didn't look too happy that for Switzerland, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train!
“The Tall Young Gentleman” didn’t look too happy that for Switzerland, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train!

It might take you a while, but you can take the train from Berlin to London for as little as €59.00, to Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Italy, Denmark, Croatia, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Poland for as little as €39.00 per single ticket or one way trip!

And if it’s not too far away. And being that this is Europe we’re talking about, so it isn’t! Fares can sometimes go as low as €19.00 for destinations such as to Prague for example!

The Deutsche Bahn building in Berlin!
The Deutsche Bahn building in Berlin!

For more information check here.

5.  Reserve your seat:

Me relaxing at the Berlin Music Video Awards.
Me relaxing at the Berlin Music Video Awards.

Now as a blogger, I’m always online in some form or the other, and it really surprises me how travellers and tourists leave their train bookings until the very last minute!

Believe me. Don’t do that!

It was lovely having a Bristol cab and driver waiting for me!
It was lovely having a Bristol cab and driver waiting for me!

Trains are popular in Europe. And if the destination is on a well-worn track, then the trains will be packed. And if it’s the weekend or a public holiday, you won’t get a seat, and will be forced to stand….!

In the summer, it’s not unknown for teenagers to be sitting on the corridor floor with their mates for a few hours.

But they can cope. Can you?

Try to reserve a seat on the European train!
Try to reserve a seat on the European train!

Now if you really don’t want to pay for a reserved seat, then the trick is to either go to the very front of the train, or the very back of it. And be quick about it!

However, if you’ve got luggage or kids, somebody from your party ought to sprint in and bagsy a couple of non-reserved  seats, or you might as well do the decent relaxing thing, and reserve the seat of your choice, in a compartment that you prefer.

Our tiny Czech train in the middle of no-where!
Our tiny Czech train in the middle of no-where!

Having said that, lots of small rural or regional trains have no possibility to reserve seats at all, so either jump in and turn left, or go upstairs!

6.  Take some refreshments with you:

Take some refreshments with you!
Take some refreshments with you!

If you’re on a regional or rural train, no refreshments will be sold on the train. And don’t even think that you can buy “something” at the next station as countryside train stations are either tiny little things, or simply non-existent!

Generally, super-clean-fast-efficient-modern-high speed trains have restaurants and trolley service throughout the train, but you can’t be sure that you’ll like either what they’re offering, or the prices!

Refreshments on the European first class train usually include a small bottle of wine or beer. But not always!
Refreshments on the European first class train usually include a small bottle of wine or beer. But not always!

‘Best to bring your own stuff if travelling in second class. Refreshments are usually given for first class customers and usually include a small bottle of wine or beer. But not always!

7.  Talk to the locals:

Don't be afraid to talk to locals or your fellow travellers on the European train!
Don’t be afraid to talk to locals or your fellow travellers on the European train!

My fellow travellers were always very helpful and we usually spoke in a mixture of English or German and a splattering of whatever the local language happens to be. With a lot of hand gestures, acting, drawing, and generally making quite a fool of myself, they usually understood what I was asking! The local travellers always helped us get off at the stop that we usually required too.

Many a time just looking anxious, or “other,” tends to open a conversation. And really, you don’t ever have to worry. The locals will help you. Just ask. Promise!

The locals will help you. Just ask. Promise!
The locals will help you. Just ask.
Promise!

In some cases, even the train driver will help you!

8.  Be prepared:

Have the correct documentation with you when travelling on the European train, and be prepared!
Have the correct documentation with you when travelling on the European train, and be prepared!

When travelling through Europe, you’re likely to go through different countries, each with it’s own distinct flavour of technology. In highly advanced countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Holland, and the Nordic countries, technical equipment will be at it’s highest, with power outlets either in between your seats, on the table, or on the side of the wall near the window!

In less advanced nations such as in Eastern Europe and even in Southern Europe, not so much!

There might be wifi and a power outlet. And there might not!
There might be WiFi and a power outlet. And there might not!

There will be WiFi, but it probably won’t work, or will be spotty at best. And there will be no power outlets! On our 15-hour train journey to Hungary, I spent hours searching the train for a plug-hole. And where was it?

In the restaurant, hanging dangerously on the wall of the heavy main train door, or in the toilet!

Er No!

Have the correct documentation with you when travelling on the European train, and be prepared!
Have the correct documentation with you when travelling on the European train, and be prepared!

Oh by the way. Europe isn’t a country. It’s a continent, so if you’re travelling on an international train, you must take your passport with you!

Train officials never used to check people in the past due to the European law of Free Movement, but as a result of strengthened alertness due to the increased height of terrorism, and to ensure our safety, they are now. So make sure you have everything in order.

Otherwise, you’ll be escorted off the train and your holiday could end right there!

9.  If you miss your train stop, don’t panic:

How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you - don't panic!
How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you – don’t panic!

Once travelling through Poland, I realized that we had missed our train stop as the countryside scene that was I expecting, did not show up on my horizon!

Hmm!

I couldn’t really look outside the window as the window was blocked with passengers in the corridor.

I couldn’t check the train map that you normally see in the corridors either as I couldn’t get to the corridor, and I didn’t have an iPhone in those days.

We had missed our train stop! Oh no!
We had missed our train stop! Oh no!

A girl in her early 20’s noticed that I kept attempting to leave the compartment. She confirmed that I had missed our stop.

OK. I’ll get off at the next stop!

Oh, I’ve missed that too!

And the train is now going East further into Poland, whereas I was supposed to be going to the sea which was in the West!

We got off the train!
We got off the train!

We got off the train.

Unfortunately, the train officials weren’t really very helpful and pointed at contrasting directions, so I decided to look around the station myself and peek onto other platforms and lo and behold, the connecting train that I wanted was still ON THE PLATFORM!

I checked and double-checked that it was indeed the right train, then we hopped on!

Then we hopped back on the train again!
Then we hopped back on the train again!

I so bugged the train conductor as per how many stops we had left, and what time we were expected to get to a certain seaside village, as there are no announcements and no destination indicators.

It was a case of watching and counting, each and every train stop…. 75 minutes later, we were there!

10.  If it all goes bananas, use your head:

Use your head at foreign train stations!
Use your head at foreign train stations!

There are 101 ways to travel through Europe, and the train is just one of them.

Sometimes it makes sense to choose another form of transport to get to your final destination.

It isn’t the worse thing in the world if you do!

HOW TO USE THE TRAIN IN EUROPE: 10 TIPS TO HELP YOU

How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.
How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.

This article is not sponsored, and the excitement of using the train in Europe, is my very own!

For travelling across Europe, or from Germany, please contact: Deutsche Bahn or take a look at my country destination page and book your hotel here!

It’s January!

I’ll be making an announcement this month that will either having me jumping up and down like a Jack-in-the-Box, or crying over my hot cocoa! Find out throughout January!

The 10th British Shorts Film Festival is taking place from 12th – 18th January, 2017

Berlin Fashion Week will take place from 17th –  20th January, 2017

The British Council Literature Seminar – #BritLitBerlin – will take place from 26.01.17 – 28.01.17

The 67th Berlin International Film Festival, otherwise known as the Berlinale, will take place from 09.02.17 – 19.02.17

Strictly Stand Up – The English Comedy Night will take place at the Quatsch comedy Club on 15.02.17. Save the Date!

If you’re not in Berlin in January, it’s a darn shame!

January is going to be dramatic!

How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.
How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.
How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.

Have you ever used the train across Europe? What are your stories? Spill the beans!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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